Netherlands - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
Last published date: 2022-09-09

The Netherlands is a geographically small (approximately the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined), densely populated (17 million people) country occupying a highly strategic commercial location. Over 170 million consumers (more than one-third of the population of the European Union) reside within a 300-mile radius of the Netherlands. The country is a key center within the global business network, with advanced infrastructure geared towards the transportation of goods, people, and data. Its core distribution points include Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the fourth largest airport in Europe for cargo. The country has capitalized on its location and advanced economy to become one of the top trading nations in the world. The Netherlands is the seventeenth largest economy in the world and the fifth largest in the European Monetary Union (the Eurozone), with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $1 trillion in 2021. The United States and the Netherlands have a strong bilateral relationship, based on close historical, cultural, and commercial ties. The relationship dates back to the American Revolution and is one of the United States’ oldest, continuous bilateral relationships. The United States is the largest foreign investor in the Netherlands and has its largest trade surplus ($18.2 billion in 2021) with the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is consistently recognized as having one of the best business climates by various international surveys. The 2021 TMF Group Global Business Complexity Index ranked the Netherlands as one of the least complex countries to do business in – Forbes ranked the Netherlands fourth on their latest Best Countries for Business list.

Top five reasons U.S. companies should consider exporting to the Netherlands:

  • The ideal European starting point for new-to-export companies looking for their first European distributor.
  • An affluent, U.S.-friendly population with a high regard for U.S. products and the highest level of English-language fluency on the continent.
  • An innovative business community hungry for new, high-quality products.
  • The most advanced logistics and distribution network in Europe.
  • Strong links to the rest of Europe and beyond.

The Dutch economy grew by five percent in 2021 as it recovered from the global health crisis. The increase was lower than in other countries in the region (Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom), but the economic contraction in the Netherlands was also lower than in these countries in 2020. The CBP Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis’ March 2022 macroeconomic outlook predicted GDP growth of 3.6 percent in 2022 and 1.7 percent in 2023. According to the CBP, the following factors have the greatest effect on economic development in the Netherlands: uncertainty from the Ukraine war, continued increase in energy prices, inflation slashing purchasing power, tight labor market, continued decrease in the effects of COVID-19, stabilization of government finances followed by worsening due to increased spending in the medium term.

Political & Economic Environment:  State Department’s website for background on the country’s political environment